Hispanics are the largest minority group in the United States, yet many Hispanics “do not identify with the current racial categories,” according to the Pew Research Center.
That’s because the term — often used interchangeably with “Latino” — covers people from a sprawling geographic area who may have distinct cultural differences. “Hispanic or Latino” refers to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race, according the the U.S. Census Bureau. This was the definition that was used for the 2010 census survey.
“Latino is a more broad term, from where I grew up, Latino was more socially connected to people from Mexico, but that realistically is not the case,” said Devante Mark, a Michigan State University student from Miami who identifies as Hispanic.
In the 2010 census, more than 50 million people identified as Hispanic or Latino in the United States. The total Hispanic population in Michigan is 477,000, according to Pew, which means Hispanic’s make up 5 percent of the Michigan population.
“Hispanic” and “Latino” often are used interchangeably, according the U.S. Census Bureau, but they can mean different things.
“I don’t believe it’s accurate to categorize one’s ethnicity based on both their language and their geographic when ethnicity is more-so based on culture,” Nicole Kunecki said, who studies Human Resources at Michigan State University.
Kunecki identifies as Hispanic because she is 50 percent Mexican on her mother’s side. She said she believes there should be more of a distinction between the two words.
“Just because someone speaks Spanish, those from Spain, does not mean that they share the same culture like people from other Latin American countries, especially in terms of their country’s history and customs,” Kunecki said.
In the U.S., Spanish has become the most spoken, non-English language, according to Pew.
“Since I don’t speak Spanish, I’m not technically Hispanic, but I do feel like I’m also very culturally similar to other Spanish-speaking Latin Americans,” said Rachel Mourao, a professor of journalism at Michigan State from Brazil.
Brazilians speak Portuguese, so saying that someone from Brazil is “Hispanic” would be inaccurate, Mourao said. “Latino” is the more accurate term.